Royal Society warning about GM-supporting lobby group (27/1/2005)

Amusing to see the President of the Royal Society warning in The Guardian (see below) about lobbyists targeting the UK to promote scepticism over climate change. The Royal Society has been only too happy to work hand in glove with such lobbyists over the GM issue.

The lobby group identified by the Guardian as the centre of concern - the Scientific Alliance - has an "advisory forum" stuffed full of avidly pro-GM scientists.

In fact, advisor to the Scientific Alliance, Prof Anthony Trewavas, is not only a Fellow of the Royal Society but has been listed by the RS in its media directory for journalists wishing to check their science stories.

Like Trewavas, several of the Scientific Alliance's advsiors are also advisors to the lobby group Sense About Science with which the Royal Society and a number of its leading Fellows have had extremely close relations:

Here are some of the Scientific Alliance's advisors with links to their GM WATCH profiles, or profiles of the organisations to which they connect. For a profile of the Scientific Alliance itself:

Professor Vivian Moses
Chairman of CropGen
Also on Advisory Council of Sense About Science

Professor Anthony Trewavas
University of Edinburgh
Also on Advisory Council of Sense About Science
Formerly on Governing Council of John Innes Centre

Professor Michael Wilson
Horticulture Research International
Also on Advisory Council of Sense About Science

Martin Livermore
PR consultant formerly with Dupont, who's also a Fellow of the International Policy Network
Listed among donors to Sense About Science

Bill Durodie
Part of the far right LM network

Dr Judith Irwin
John Innes Centre

Professor Tom Addiscott
Rothamsted Research

Professor Sir Colin Berry
Queen Mary, University of London
Also on Advisory Council of Sense About Science

Professor Mick Fuller
Department of Ag & Food Studies Uni of Plymouth
Has been described as a "biotech mouthpiece"

It also formerly included well-known climate-sceptic and GM supporter Philip Stott

Oil firms fund campaign to deny climate change
David Adam, science correspondent
Thursday January 27, 2005
The Guardian

Lobby groups funded by the US oil industry are targeting Britain in a bid to play down the threat of climate change and derail action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, leading scientists have warned.

Bob May, president of the Royal Society, says a "a lobby of professional sceptics who opposed action to tackle climate change" is turning its attention to Britain because of its high profile in the debate.

Writing in the Life section of today's Guardian, Prof May says the government's decision to make global warming a focus of its G8 presidency has made it a target. So has the high profile of its chief scientific adviser, David King, who described climate change as a bigger threat than terrorism.

Prof May's warning coincides with a meeting of climate change sceptics today at the Royal Institution in London organised by a British group, the Scientific Alliance, which has links to US oil company ExxonMobil through a collaboration with a US institute.

Last month the Scientific Alliance published a joint report with the George C Marshall Institute in Washington that claimed to "undermine" climate change claims. The Marshall institute received GBP51,000 from ExxonMobil for its "global climate change programme" in 2003, and an undisclosed sum this month.

Prof May's warning comes as British scientists publish new research in the journal Nature showing that emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide could have a more dramatic effect on climate than thought. They say average temperature could rise 11C, even if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is limited to the levels expected to be reached in 2050.

David Frame, who coordinated the climate prediction experiment, said: "If the real world response were anywhere near the upper end of our range, even today's levels of greenhouse gases could already be dangerously high."

Emission limits such as those in the Kyoto protocol would hit oil firms because the bulk of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuel products.

Prof May writes that during the 1990s, parts of the US oil industry funded (through the so-called Global Climate Coalition) sceptics who opposed action to tackle climate change. The GCC was "deactivated" in 2001 once Mr Bush made clear he intended to reject the Kyoto protocol."But the denial lobby is still active and today it arrives in London."

The Scientific Alliance was set up in 2001 and is run by Mark Adams, a former private secretary for parliamentary affairs at No 10 and a private secretary to Tony Blair for six months after the 1997 election.

An alliance spokesman said today's meeting was sponsored but its policy was not to reveal its funders. ExxonMobil said it is not involved. The alliance spokesman said funders do not influence policies.

One adviser is Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Centre, a noted global warming sceptic and senior scientist with the Marshall Institute. In 1998 Dr Baliunas co-wrote an article that argued for the release of more carbon dioxide. It looked like a paper of the US National Academy of Sciences and was mass-mailed to US scientists with a petition asking them to reject Kyoto.

Prof King said several speakers at today's event have been to briefings he attended, including a summit meeting he organised in Moscow last July. "Astonishingly, when I arrived the programme had been dramatically altered. This was in the run up to the ratification of Kyoto by Putin and clearly the same group of people had decided to target our attempt to explain the current science."

Larry Elliott in Davos adds: Tony Blair yesterday softened his stance on climate change to persuade President Bush to sign a global accord. Giving the keynote address at the World Economic Forum, Mr Blair said climate change was not universally accepted. With chief executives of many US firms in the audience, he said: "The evidence is still disputed."

Evidence of climate change dangers had been "clearly and persuasively advocated" by a very large number of "entirely independent voices ... they are the majority, the majority is not always right but they deserve to be listened to".

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